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The end of Andy Murray? Five first-round Australian Open matches to watch out for


Murray could well play his final match (Picture: Getty Images)

The first Grand Slam of 2019 has thrown up some fascinating draws, with some incredible first-round matches on offer.

With some huge names unseeded in this year’s edition of the Australian Open, there was always potential for some mammoth clashes – and the draw did not disappoint!

Here we take a look at some of the intriguing matches on offer across the first two days of the tournament, which are not to be missed!

Andy Murray vs Roberto Bautista Agut

Bautista Agut is a tough opponenet (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

This may be the most painful match to view, but few will want to miss out on what could be the final competitive appearance of Andy Murray’s career.

The three-time Grand Slam champion announced his plans to retire from the sport on Friday and faces a gruelling encounter with Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut on Monday.

Bautista Agut is known to be a grinder and he won’t make life easy for the Scot, who continues to struggle with a long-term hip problem.

The quality may not be the best, but it will be fascinating to see Murray push through the pain in a final bid to get a win at a tournament he’s been a runner-up at on five occsions.

Prediction: Bautista Agut in 3

Simona Halep vs Kaia Kanepi

Is Halep vulnerable? (Picture: EPA)

There’s a sense that the world No. 1 is vunerable after splitting Darren Cahill at the end of last season and Simona Halep has been handed a stiff test in the first round at Melbourne Park.

Last year’s losing finalist was beaten by Kaia Kanepi in the first round of the US Open in 2018 and the Estonian is a nightmare opponent early in a major.

Kanepi is a six-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist and is capable of blasting anyone off court, don’t be surprised to see Halep bow out.

Prediction: Kanepi in 3

Nick Kyrgios vs Milos Raonic

Will Kyrgios beat Raonic? (Picture: Getty Images)

The home favourite was highlighted as one of the most dangerous floaters in the draw after his ranking slipped to world No. 51 and Milos Raonic has been unfortunate enough to draw Nick Kyrgios in the first round.

Both men possess huge first serves so it promises to be a tight encounter, with the pair both hoping to rebuild their rankings after dips in recent times.

Raonic is perhaps the favourite on paper but Kyrgios remains a nightmare encounter and may be spurred onto victory by the home crowd.

Prediction: Kyrgios in 5

Harriet Dart vs Maria Sharapova

Sharapova will meet the young Brit (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

To say the Brits have been handed a tough set of draws is a massive understatement, but Harriet Dart will be relishing the opportunity to open Monday’s play on the Rod Laver Arena against five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova.

Dart idolised the Russian growing up and the young Briton has shown plenty of fight much like Sharapova in her opening matches this season.

She was 6-1 down in her final qualifying match and has developed a reputation as a bit of a comeback queen.

It’s hard to see her beating Sharapova, but it’s a great opportunity to see how she fares against the best.

Prediction: Sharapova in 2

Kyle Edmund vs Tomas Berdych

Will Edmund crash out? (Picture: Getty)

Another Brit handed a horrific draw, Kyle Edmund is facing an incredibly testing tie against Tomas Berdych.

The former Wimbledon runner-up looked in good shape as he returned from injury in Doha, reaching the final of the Qatar Open.

Edmund, meanwhile, has the added pressure of defending semi-finals points from his surge through this event in 2018 and this promises to be an incredibly tight and tense encounter.

I give Berdych the edge, but it really could go either way.

Prediction: Berdych in 5





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